Leading by example: The tale of a servant warrior

Posted on Oct 31 2013 - 10:45am by Sam Horn, Sports Editor

The rainy October night sky pelted the Clover Park Warriors as they waged a battle for conference supremacy against Franklin Pierce High School on the rain-soaked football field.

One Warrior lay alone in the rain — Bobby Daly.

The high school senior and linebacker had just suffered a tibia and fibia fracture in the midseason game. He couldn’t feel his leg, let alone move it.

As the medics carted him off the field in a stretcher in front of many concerned fans, Daly said he wondered if he “would be able to recover after the injury and actually play in college.” It seemed like the autumn of 2009 would be the cause of his demise.

Daly had served as a critical ingredient to the Warriors’ defense in his three years of playing on the varsity squad.

As a senior in high school, Daly won the Ironman Award. Daly received the award for not missing a single practice in the offseason or regular season during his four-year high school football career.

A tibia and fibia fracture is not a minor injury. Daly had to wear a leg cast that covered everything up to his hip for three months following the fracture.

Daly couldn’t physically drive, so he would sit across the back seat while his parents drove him to school during his rehabilitation period. He wasn’t cleared to participate in any type of athletic activity until May 2010.

“It became a burden to be around friends,” Daly said. “I kind of got secluded into my own world, because I would be in my room a lot. I fell prey to the ‘poor me’ syndrome after a while, and it was tough, because I didn’t want to be like that. I was mentally weak.”

Daly’s horrific injury might have stolen his senior year of wrestling and track, but it didn’t take away the fact that he had been accepted into Pacific Lutheran University in 2010.

“I wanted to prove that the coaches didn’t waste a recruiting trip or roster spot on me as an individual and as a member of the family outside of football,” Daly said. “I wanted to show them they made the right choice.”

Daly certainly proved he was worth the recruiting visit to PLU defensive coordinator Craig McCord.

“Bobby [Daly] has been everything we’ve asked for,” McCord said. “He is helping coach younger guys, and he’s playing through the guys that are starting ahead of him … his perseverance and his never-say-die attitude has been great.”

College not only came with homework and smelly dorm rooms, but it also brought new challenges with injuries.

During his sophomore year at PLU, Daly pulled his hamstring twice — once during the offseason summer workouts and again during the early part of the fall.

His junior year was only worse injury-wise.

On the second day of fall practice, Daly took on the leading fullback, but he felt something crunch in his shoulder as he made contact.

“It [my shoulder] tingled and stung, but I didn’t think it was a huge deal,” Daly said.

What Daly had thought was an insignificant injury swelled into a slightly separated Acromioclavicular joint in his right shoulder. The injury prevented Daly from participating in any football-related activities for nearly seven weeks.

Daly didn’t suit up until the sixth game in 2012, when the Lutes won against Willamette 41-27.

In his final year as a Lute, Daly has recovered from his prior injuries and is now a contributor on special teams. He could have given up at any point in the past three years, but he chose not to.

“I admire him and look up to him a lot because he’s stuck with it [football] and has not given up,” senior Jordan Patterson, a linebacker, said. “When I think of a true servant warrior, Bobby is one of the first guys to come to mind.”

Patterson was Daly’s roommate when they were first-years.

Daly decided to stick with the Lute football program for one sole reason: relationships. Daly is great friends with Patterson and many other teammates and said he wants to keep these fruitful relationships for as long as he possibly can.

“It doesn’t matter what you do on and off the field,” Daly said. “It’s who you are, and in the end, relationships are the only thing that you have left after graduating.”

Daly has accepted his role on the defense, even though he is not a starter. Daly’s goal is to be a role model on the team.

He said he is done thinking about why he isn’t starting.

“I want to be a leader and let the field take care of itself,” Daly said.

When Daly is on the field, he brings a certain level of excitement, Patterson said.

“When he got some playing time [on defense] at the end of the Lewis & Clark game this past year, my eyes were fixed on him, and I cheered him on,” Patterson said. “Our team knows that he works hard. He deserves to be out there.”

Rewind back to when Daly injured his leg as a senior in high school.

He thought he would never come back to play the sport he so desperately loved. Would Daly agree with that notion now?

“Not a chance.”

The four Lute football players surrounding Bobby Daly, 52, have persuaded him to stick with football, even in dire circumstances. They have stood by him every step of the way. From left to right, seniors Dalton Darmody, Jordan Patterson, Daly, Ben Kaestner and Mychael Tuiasosopo. Photo by Sam Horn.

The four Lute football players surrounding Bobby Daly, 52, have persuaded him to stick with football, even in dire circumstances. They have stood by him every step of the way. From left to right, seniors Dalton Darmody, Jordan Patterson, Daly, Ben Kaestner and Mychael Tuiasosopo. Photo by Sam Horn.